Physicist Sent to Halfway House

March 26, 1998 - AP

A nuclear physicist who gave secret national defense information to Chinese scientists and lied about it to U.S. investigators was sentenced Thursday to one year in a halfway house.

Peter Lee, 58, also must pay a $20,000 fine and perform 3,000 hours of community service.

U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter told Lee that a "message needs to be sent to other scientists who take an oath, like you did, not to reveal our nation's secrets."

The Taiwan-born resident of Manhattan Beach pleaded guilty Dec. 8 to giving China secret information in 1985 about the use of lasers to simulate nuclear detonations. He told the FBI he wanted to help the Chinese scientists and enhance his reputation there.

Lee worked as a laser energy researcher at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. He divulged the information on a visit to the government-run Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Seven Chinese scientists of the academy called it a normal academic exchange and accused U.S. authorities of coercing Lee to plead guilty.

Justice for Jonathan Pollard

notes that both Lee and Pollard were indicted on the same charge: passing classified information to a friendly nation. For passing critical munitions information on nuclear weapons and laser technology to the Chinese, Peter Lee was sentenced to one year in a halfway house. This stands in marked contrast to the

life sentence

that Jonathan Pollard received for passing vital security information to Israel that was due to her under the terms of a 1983 Letter of Understanding, and was deliberately being withheld.
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